Watson Marlow Peristaltic Pumps for Calcium Reactors

Discussion in 'General Equipment, Hardware, Filtration' started by louisvillereefer, Feb 11, 2017.

  1. louisvillereefer

    louisvillereefer Member

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    There is already a lot of information available online about using Cole Parmer peristaltic pumps to feed a calcium reactor.

    However, when I decided that a peristaltic pump was best way to consistently feed my Geo 612 calcium reactor, I ran into difficulties finding a Cole Palmer pump that was a good value.

    So, in the end, I decided to buy a Watson Marlow pump. Since I bought a relatively new model, I didn't end up saving versus the Cole Parmer solutions out there but I am happy with the purchase.

    Watson Marlow pumps are well-known for their reliability. In fact, they were specifically mentioned 15 years ago as a reliable feed pump:

    http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-05/sh/feature/

    After some research, I narrowed down my search to the 500 series of pumps. I eventually settled on a Watson Marlow 520 pump, which is adjustable between 0 and 220 rpm. It can be adjusted by 0.1 rpm increments, which is a tremendous benefit for fine tuning reactor flow. I believe that all the Watson Marlow pumps are brushless, which is a concern on many of the Cole Parmer pumps.

    I ran into a bit of difficulty researching the differences between the various 520 pumps. Eventually, I came across this info:
    • 520S has manual only control. It can be calibrated to display flowrate in ml/min
    • 520U has manual, remote auto, and analogue control. It can be calibrated to display flowrate in ml/min
    • 520Du has manual, remote auto, and RS232 control. It cannot be calibrated to display flowrate in ml/min

    After a bit of research, I bought a very clean Watson Marlow 520S pump with a 520R head off Ebay. While it was advertised for almost $1300, I managed to get one discounted for about 1/2 of the requested price. The pump is in near perfect shape and it’s built like a tank.

    s-l1600-3.jpg

    Unlike some peristaltic pumps that can only use specific sizes of tubing, compatible tubing for these pumps is determined by the tubing wall thickness. My pump head accepts 1.6mm, which equates to 1/16" wall thickness. In the guide, it states the flow rates associated with various bores (inside diameter) of the tubing. So, I decided to forgo the expensive Watson Marlow tubing and went with the tubing recommended on a Reef Central thread for the Cole Parmer pumps since it is also 1/16" wall thickness. In the end, it worked perfectly but only time will tell regarding longevity.

    Here the links to the tubing and the parts I used to attach the pump the calcium reactor (these are the specific parts recommended by tkeracer619 on RC:

    Tygon PharMed Tubing
    http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=25534

    1/8"FNPT x 1/4"Hose ID Polypropylene Female Adapter
    http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=36204

    1/4" Tube OD x 1/8" MNPTF Connector
    http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=42009

    Snap Grip Clamp
    http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=34082

    I ordered the tubing and connectors from US Plastics and everything went together easily. I couldn't believe how quiet the pump is at lower rpms. I can’t even hear the pump unless I take off the front pump head guard.

    After installing the tubing and connectors, I calibrated the pump to show an accurate flow. Calibration was quite easy since all you need to do is run the pump into a graduated cylinder or measuring cup and input the amount that was dispensed.

    Here is how the pieces fit together:

    IMG_0368.JPG

    Using the 1/4“ ID tubing, the pump flow is approximately 7.4 ml per revolution. Given that the manual states that the flow should be approximately 7 ml/min per rpm, this about what I expected.

    As I’ve been tweaking my calcium reactor to dial-in the ideal alkalinity, I’ve had to change the flow rate a couple of times, which only takes seconds each time. Lately I’ve been running the pump at 3.0 rpm, which is 22.1 ml/min.

    The pump has been running flawlessly for the past two weeks. My only complaint so far is that the pump is quite large and takes a lot of space in my cabinet. If I had a heated garage, I would locate the pump and the calcium reactor out in the garage but right now that isn’t an option.

    Let me know if you have any questions. Since these pumps are so reliable and bullet-proof, I hope that this is last feed pump I’ll ever need to buy.
     
    billwill and NeverlosT like this.

  2. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    I've been trying to track with this modern interpretation of the calcium reactor (i.e. one that works reliably for more than a few days at a time)......so with a top-quality $650 (used) feed pump, and german regulator, et al....what's the total bill for a reliable, top-quality calcium reactor by your estimate?
     
  3. louisvillereefer

    louisvillereefer Member

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    I would say that my all in costs are about $1350

    Watson Marlow peristaltic feed pump $650
    Geo 612 Reactor (black Friday) $314
    CarbonDoser Electronic CO2 Regulator $290
    CO2 Cylinder $58
    US Plastics tubing $37
     
    MaddyP and NeverlosT like this.
  4. reefwiser

    reefwiser LMAS R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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  5. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Is this the whole regulator from the dual-stage reducer to the carbondoser, inclusive, for $290? I've seen some folks still put a $x,xxx german regulator on the list along with the carbondoser. Any thoughts? Worth it?
     
  6. gus6464

    gus6464 Well-Known Member

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    I've seen quite a bit of Cole Parmer console drives on ebay for cheap lately. My setup is similar to yours with the geo 612 but I have some extras.

    Geo 612 ($290 on sale)
    Geo UMC 420 second degas chamber ($100)
    Cole Parmer Masterflex console drive 6-600rpm with easy load II head and L/S17 tubing ($220)
    Victor VTS-253B dual stage regulator with custom post body kit ($220)
    20lb CO2 tank (free as it had expired hydro but swapped out at airgas filled for $32)
    Misc john guest fittings ($15)

    Already had my regulator way before this though from my planted tank days so didn't really count it in the carx budget.
     
  7. louisvillereefer

    louisvillereefer Member

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    The whole regulator is $299. I believe that you can get a carbondoser that doesn't include a regulator so you can use your own. So, I'm sure you could upgrade it and use some special German regulator since the carbondoser regulator is nothing special. I've used a carbondoser with the included regulator and never saw a reason to upgrade it. The weak link was always the pump and that has now been addressed with the peristaltic pump.

    Lots of people have Cole Parmers and love them. I looked for one for a while but the brushless ones always seemed to be priced high.

    In the end, I finally decided to try something different. I wanted to create this post since I wasn't able to find any decent info on reefers who used Watson Marlow pumps to feed a calcium reactor. There are plenty of older Watson Marlow pumps that are less expensive but ended up paying more to get one that looked new.

    BTW, what do you think of the second degas chamber?
     
    Heath Biggers and mcarroll like this.
  8. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    I like it! smart design, for sure! That whole installation looks pretty tight. :)
     
  9. gus6464

    gus6464 Well-Known Member

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    I like the second chamber. I have noticed that after adding it my apex fires up the co2 a lot less frequent so the reactor is being more efficient. The trick seems to be putting tiny media in the second chamber so I have the smallest arm in it. The main reactor body has reborn.
     
    NeverlosT and louisvillereefer like this.
  10. Shawn Cybulski

    Shawn Cybulski Member

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    Nice setup
     
  11. louisvillereefer

    louisvillereefer Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions. I will probably give it a try in a few months after my bank account recovers.
     
  12. louisvillereefer

    louisvillereefer Member

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    Thanks! Let me know if you have any more questions.

    Thanks
     
  13. Txdragonslayer

    Txdragonslayer Well-Known Member

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    Forgive my ignorance but isn't anyone using the DOS, isn't Neptune using parastalic pumps? That's what I am thinking of going with, unless you all tell me why you all are spending more for these other pumps.
     
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  14. Txdragonslayer

    Txdragonslayer Well-Known Member

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    Why isn't anyone using*...
     
  15. louisvillereefer

    louisvillereefer Member

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    I don't think they are rated for continuous use. So, they will burn out very quickly if you use them as a calcium reactor pump.

    Also, I don't believe you can adjust the flow.
     
  16. Water Dog

    Water Dog Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    How loud is the Watson Marlow 520s pump? The non brushless Cole Parmers are quite noisy.
     
  17. Txdragonslayer

    Txdragonslayer Well-Known Member

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    i know you can adjust the flow and they are rated for 5000 hours if i am not mistaken. I am almost positive i saw @Terence use it on his deltec Carx on his big build.
     
  18. Water Dog

    Water Dog Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    The issue is that the DOS's flow rate cannot be adjusted if run continuously, it has a fixed output, thus making it pretty useless for controlling effluent drip/flow rate. The DOS was designed as a dosing pump to be run in intervals to control dosing amounts, ideally for 2 part. Like other dosing pumps, the DOS is fixed and based around whatever ml/min it produces. The amount is controlled by turning it on and off. The Watson Marlow and Masterflex pumps are industrial metering pumps that are designed for continuous running with the ability to adjust the flow rates while running continuously, ideal for dialing in calcium reactors.
     
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  19. Txdragonslayer

    Txdragonslayer Well-Known Member

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    ok, now it has clicked! thanks!
     
  20. Txdragonslayer

    Txdragonslayer Well-Known Member

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    So my follow up question, is why are all these pumps 1K plus, why cant i just get a pump that comes with the dastaco, or something like that? are those too, just stepper motors?
     
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